EU Negotiator Laments 'Little Progress' on Brexit, May Struggles With Trade Plan

Brexit news BBC Newsnight Theresa May Northern Ireland

"Certainly the customs partnership, as proposed by the United Kingdom last June, isn't workable, that's the view of the (EU) taskforce and the EU27 and has been rejected, but I do think the customs partnership is closer to being made workable than this proposal of "max fac", Varadkar told parliament. "The clock is ticking", said Roth at the meeting with his fellow diplomats in Brussels. "The two key points which remain, where there is risk of failure, are the governance of the agreement and the Ireland-Northern Ireland issue", Barnier told the media outlet.

London signed up for this in March but disagrees with the EU's proposals and is being pressed to come up with an alternative means of achieving it before an European Union leaders' summit in June.

Barnier's statement has come before a government Brexit meeting, called by the British Prime Minister on May 15. Within the it trade with the EU after Brexit should be carried out under the same conditions, but London will be able to begin trade negotiations with countries outside the EU, for now, remaining a member of the EU, he has no right.

Barnier later said that there had been "a little, not very little progress" but warned that more was urgently needed. "What we are concerned is in particular the question of Northern Ireland, where we expect a significant compromise from the British side".

Earlier this month, Theresa May's government presented two proposals on post-Brexit trade.

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Instead, he said, ministers had wasted months on two "fatally flawed" options - a customs partnership under which Britain would collect tariffs on behalf of the European Union, and a streamlined customs arrangement which would depend on technology to reduce any friction at the new border with the bloc.

Barnier and the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini meanwhile both welcomed British proposals on a future security partnership with the EU.

The EU has set October as the final deadline for a deal to be finalised.

But he reiterated that Britain could not participate in the EU's Galileo satellite programme, pointing out that London itself had approved European Union rules saying that countries outside the bloc could not be involved.

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